Cool in the kitchen

Dis­ney’s new lo­cal kids’ show brings cook­ing alive – from the farm to the ta­ble.

TV Plus (South Africa) - - REALITY -

Kirsten Mo­hammed and Mthunzi Ny­oti help the Cook­about kids. Sea­son 1 Fri­days (from 5 Au­gust) SABC2 (*192) 15:30

Over a pe­riod of five-and-a half weeks in au­tumn this year, 10 cooks aged 11 to 13 trav­elled around the Western Cape, find­ing out where our food comes from. But that’s only part of new lo­cal kid­dies’ show Dis­ney Cook­about (2016- cur­rent), be­cause when the mini- chefs get back to the kitchen, the pres­sure’s on them to turn those fresh in­gre­di­ents into home cook­ing. But don’t ex­pect anything as com­pet­i­tive as most re­al­ity cook­ing shows – the gold tro­phy is made of spray-painted spoons and the real prize of this fun edu­tain­ment show is the ad­ven­ture and experiencing the funky in­ter­ac­tive kitchen – plus, the op­por­tu­nity for the chil­dren on the show to nip out of school dur­ing exam sea­son. We got to taste-test the se­ries and here’s what we learnt about the jour­ney from stu­dio to TV screen…

SAFETY FIRST

The kids are helped on set by the sweet “chef” Kirsten Mo­hammed (who’s smaller than some of the kids) The show’s set is bright, colour­ful and fun for the con­tes­tants. There are fun props like goose mea­sur­ing cups.

and lively “sous chef” Mthunzi Ny­oti, both of whom are per­form­ers rather than kitchen pros. Un­like MasterChef Ju­nior (2013- cur­rent) or Ju­nior Bake Off’s (2011- cur­rent) con­tes­tants, Cook­about’s kids aren’t al­lowed to han­dle knives or lift hot items. Kirsten and Mthunzi take care of anything that could po­ten­tially cause in­jury.

AWE­SOME KITCHEN

The set comes alive when the words “Awe­some Kitchen” are said – lights flash and draw­ers and doors whoosh open. Some of that, like the pantry door, is au­to­mated, but the fridge and the draw­ers un­der the ovens are op­er­ated by peo­ple stand­ing out of sight lis­ten­ing for their cues to open and shut things.

IN­SIDE THE FRIDGE

When the kids ask the “fridge” for their in­gre­di­ents, it will ro­tate to “mag­i­cally” re­veal ex­actly what they need. That’s all kept in a real fridge be­hind the set and put on the shelves at the last minute by the out-of-sight props team.

MAGIC DOOR

The art team’s big­gest chal­lenge was the “magic door” that trav­els with the chil­dren to the roughly 20 dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions they visit – from Kalk Bay to Grabou (for ap­ples and herbs), to the Ceder­berg (for Rooi­bos, man­goes and cit­rus) over moun­tain passes and dirt roads. It takes four strong men 90 min­utes to put the door on the truck and another hour-and-a-half to take it down again af­ter film­ing.

HEC­TIC FOR HERBS

Pro­duc­tion orig­i­nally wanted to in­clude a liv­ing herb wall for the kids to pick from, but in­stead they wound up us­ing plas­tic herbs as a set decoration be­cause real herbs would wilt and die un­der the in­tense heat of the stu­dio lights.

STOCK­ING THE PANTRY

Af­ter first speak­ing to Cook­about’s food con­sul­tant Chris­tine Capen­dale to check scripts and re­view the 48 recipe break­downs used through­out the two sea­sons (of 13 episode each), the prop team took about three weeks to source all the gor­geous and colour­ful crock­ery used on­screen. They went to or­di­nary shops, like Chi­na­Town, Pick ’n Pay, Check­ers, @home and Clicks. But oc­ca­sion­ally you’ll see some adorable kitchen item that’s been hired from a prop house, like tv­plus’s favourite item from the pantry: the adorable goose mea­sur­ing cups. The taps work, but the kid­die con­tes­tants don’t have to wash up – that’s for the pro­duc­tion crew.

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